The image of the Romantic Wanderer has long captured the imaginations of poets, artists, and composers. Epitomised by Caspar David Friedrich's painting, 'Wanderer Above the Mist', this figure embodies the Romantic spirit: on the one hand adventurous, on an exhilarating quest for beauty, revelling in nature; and on the other, isolated, lonely, yearning for something left behind or not yet found.Read more…
- Schubert•Die schöne Müllerin op. 25 D 795•1. Das Wandern
- Schumann•Lieder und Gesänge op. 77•1. Der frohe Wandersmann
- Vaughan Williams•Songs of Travel (1904)•1. The Vagabond
- Britten•Winter Words op. 52 (1953)•2. Midnight on the Great Western (The Journeying Boy)
- Schumann•Manfred op. 115: Overture•Rasch - Langsam - In leidenschaftlichem Tempo
- Duparc•L'invitation au Voyage (Version for Voice and Orchestra)•Mon enfant, ma sœur
- Berlioz•Harold en Italie op. 16 H 68•III. Sérénade d'un montagnard des Abruzzes à sa maîtresse
- MacCunn•Land of the Mountain and the Flood, Concert Overture for Orchestra op. 3•Allegro con moto
- Vaughan Williams•Songs of Travel (1904)•7. Whither Must I Wander?
- Butterworth•Bredon Hill and Other Songs (1912)•2. Oh fair enough are sky and plain
- Delius•Over the Hills and Far Away, Fantasy Overture RT VI/11 (1895-1897)•
- Brahms•Ballads and Romances op. 75•3. So lass uns wandern!
- Wolf•Auf der Wanderung HWW 73•Über die Hügel
- Schubert•Fantasy for Piano in C major op. 15 D 760 'Wanderer Fantasy'•Adagio –
- Strauss•Der müde Wanderer TrV 16•Schon sank die Sonne nieder
- Schumann•Der Wanderer WoO 7•Die Straßen, die ich gehe
- Burgmüller•Abreise (Departure) (from Fünf Lieder op. 10)•Abreise (Departure)
- Janáček•Potulny silenec (The Wandering Madman) JW IV/43•Potulny silenec (The Wandering Madman)
- Bennett•I Wonder as I Wander (2008)•I wonder as I wander out under the sky
Schubert took the character of the Wanderer and examined it from every angle: his two major song cycles, 'Die schöne Müllerin' and 'Wintereisse', are both from the perspective of travellers. We hear the optimistic "Das Wandern" from 'Die schöne Müllerin', followed by Robert Schumann's similarly "happy wanderer". Then comes the trudging "Vagabond" from the 'Songs of Travel' by Ralph Vaughan Williams, before two wintry songs: the haunting "Midnight on the Great Western (The Journeying Boy)" from Britten's 'Winter Words', and the restless "Rückblick" ("Backwards Glance”) from Schubert's 'Winterreise'. Schumann's 'Manfred' Overture was inspired by Byron, whose words encapsulate the Wanderer's sensibilities:
My joy was in the Wilderness, …
Into the torrent, and to roll along
On the swift whirl of the new breaking wave
Of river-stream, or ocean, in their flow.
An injection of warmth comes with the sunnier atmosphere of Duparc's "L’invitation au Voyage", Berlioz's Byronic symphony, 'Harold en Italie', and Mahler's celebration of spring (echoed in his First Symphony) in the second of the 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' ('Songs of a Wayfarer'), contrasted with the more bracing Scottish landscape of MacCunn's Walter Scott-inspired 'Land of the Mountain and the Flood'.
George Butterworth excelled at setting poetry evoking explorations of the countryside. 'Bredon Hill and Other Songs' includes "Oh fair enough are sky and plain" to a poem from A.E. Housman’s 'A Shropshire Lad', which subtly expresses the Wanderer’s sense of longing.
In Schubert's radiant "Shepherd on the Rock", the soprano duets with the clarinet, supported by the piano, and Brahms combines two voices with piano for "So let us wander", its ebullient attitude echoed in Wolf’s walking song. Yet the sense of alienation returns with Richard Strauss's "Weary Wanderer".
Using words by Tagore, Janáček's "Wandering Madman" takes our theme to its extreme, depicting a wild and lost figure through intoned phrases answered by disjointed choral statements. Richard Rodney Bennett's "I wonder as I wander" returns us to more reassuring terrain, the poet’s journey used as an opportunity to reflect on the Christmas story.